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Conquering Your Fear of Open Water: 4 Tips for Beginner Triathletes

Updated: Jun 14, 2023



Triathletes swimming in Tri Waco Race 2021 Brazos River
Credit: Tri Waco Triathlon Swim 2021

As a beginner triathlete, the fear of open water can be intimidating. However, with the right approach, you can conquer this fear and improve your swimming performance. Here are four essential open water tips triathletes can use to help overcome fear of open water:


Seek Advice from Experienced Triathletes

Connect with experienced triathletes who can offer valuable insights, technique improvements, and race-day tips. Learning from their perspective can reduce anxiety and prevent common mistakes during open-water swims.



Focus on Specific Open Water Skills

Break down your swimming skills into smaller components, such as sighting, stroke technique, breathing, and overall form.


Practice these OWS swimming drills & skills individually in the comfort of a pool and gradually transfer them to open water. By refining each skill and integrating them holistically, you'll boost your confidence and performance.


Familiarize Yourself with Open Water Conditions


Prior to race day, find a suitable body of water to practice in. Experience the unique challenges of entering open water, be mindful of current as waves splashing over you and sighting.


Maintain your form, breathe evenly, and adapt to the conditions to build familiarity and confidence. Sometimes just standing on shore and visualizing your self swimming on race is valuable and you don't even need to get wet!


Create Fallback Plans


Prepare "panic" plans to address any nervousness or challenges you may encounter during the swim. Use anxiety-reducing tactics like counting strokes to regain control of your breathing and focus on what you can control.


Even simple backstroking or doing a few breaststrokes to regain your orientation or momentum work when you feel a bit overwhelmed. Make a checklist of essential items, ensuring they fit properly, including wetsuit, swim goggles and backup pairs.


Instead of fighting against waves or getting off course, learn to adapt to the environment around you. It might be worth your peace to swim out 1-2 feet outside of the crowds.


Maintain your sighting technique, adjust your stroke speed, and take moments to relax when possible when in less than calm waters. Finding humor in the experience can lighten the mood and boost your confidence.


Female Triathlete Exiting Water at Sisters Super Sprint Triathlon Race
Credit: Sisters Super Sprint Triathlon 2020

Overcoming Fears - Open Water Tips Triathletes Can Use Conclusion


Remember, overcoming your fear of open water is a journey that requires time, patience, and consistency. Most triathletes need 1-2 races under their belts before they are fully comfortable with open water racing.


With dedication and persistence, you can become a confident and successful open water triathlete swimmer just by starting in the pool. Start your journey today and take that first step towards conquering your fear of open water by downloading a open FREE water swimming guide.




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